Macho mayor's 'Skin in the game' Wall Street metaphor leaves teachers scratching heads... Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces 'cuts in bureaucracy' while cutting busing for children and cleaning of schools as corporate media survivors dutifully take notes

Chicago teachers, parents and students who thought that trying to decipher the rambling musings of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his various "Chief Executive Officer" mumblings about what was good for the schools got a breath of hot air on June 2 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the new leadership of Chicago Public Schools tried to pull off what amounts to a virtual Alice in Wonderland version of reality with an announcement about "cutting bureaucracy" that won't cut any bureaucracy.

Here is what happened:

While an unnamed CPS student looks on (far left), Mayor Rahm Emanuel (third from left) announces cuts in the "bureaucracy" of the nation's third largest school system while the schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard (top hat) share breakfast for children during a media event on June 2, 2001, or at some point in recent Chicago history.Following a widely publicized rumor that Emanuel and Brizard would appear at a downtown public school early on June 2 for a media event, CPS officials hinted that at least one major part of the event would be an announcement that Brizard, like all of his predecessors, was going to "reduce administrative bloat" and "cut bureaucracy." Since Daley took over the city's public schools in 1995, not a year has gone by when they mayor or his appointees, at just about this time in the annual media cycle, has announced that bureaucracy would be cut. By the early 21st Century, if anyone had believed all the versions of the story line, CPS had cut the bureaucracy in the school systems by anywhere from five to twenty percent every year for more than 15 years.

In other words, Daley had wiped out "bureaucracy" by the he replaced Paul Vallas, his first unqualified white guy "Chief Executive Officer.", with Arne Duncan (who was even more unqualified to lead a school system than Vallas, a miracle that most Chicagoans would not have believed possible) as CEO. And that, for those who still care about chronology and historical fact, was on July 1, 2001. Duncan became the head of the nation's third largest school system, based exclusively on mayoral patronage. Arne Duncan's total experience in "teaching" had been some volunteer work in his Mom's after school thingy at Jackie Robinson Elementary School. According to Duncan's subsequent biographical elaborations, that really inspired Arne to want to be a teacher, or at least to go into "education." But, as the world now knows, Arne never became an actual Chicago classroom teachers, instead choosing to play basketball in Australia for a couple of years before returning to Chicago and, when he finally chose a career in education, starting at the top thanks to Daley and a bunch of university, Hyde Park and foundation clout he had been carefully assembling.

But that's a digression. Fact is, every year the chief of Chicago's schools announces, at about this time, another "bureaucracy" cut. Paul Vallas not only cut "bureaucracy" (according the Vallas and the scribes who transcribed his words without further fact checking), but he "blew up" the symbol of CPS bureaucracy by moving the "bureaucracy" from the old U.S. government complex at 1819 W. Pershing Road to the old Commonwealth Edison building at 125 S. Clark St. While a couple of cynics suggested that the real reasons for the downtown move were twofold — a favor to Com Ed (which had an antiquated building it was trying to unload) and being closer to City Hall (where the political patronage was flowing) and the city's major corporate entities (which would be dictating "school reform"). Vallas told the press the problem was "bureaucracy" and Pershing Road and that once he eliminated Pershing Road things would be so much better.

Vallas even said that he would like to blow up the Pershing Road complex, but that he would get a teacher to push the plunger on the dynamite charges (one of those unexamined Hollywood metaphors that goes unexamined in this town). Despite the major hoopla surrounding the first announcement by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard that CPS was beginning its budget process by cutting more than $70 million from "central office" (or, in Mayor Emanuel's words, "bureaucracy"), the actual content of the mayor's June 2, 2011 announcement was outlined in the press release distributed by CPS on June 2. Apparently, for now in 2011, "bureaucracy includes the people who push brooms to clean the schools and "debt." At the most, less than $20 million in the cuts announced will come from administrative costs.


In this undated photo, Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard (top) explains to a CPS student (lower left) how $44 million in bonds, a longer school bus ride, and less cleaning in the schools can equal "cuts in the bureaucracy" at a June 2, 2011 Chicago Public Schools press conference.Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announce savings of $75 million to FY2012 CPS budget ... Savings to come by trimming administrative and non-classroom spending June 2, 2011

This morning, Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced savings of $75 million to the Chicago Public Schools by trimming administrative and non-classroom spending from the upcoming FY12 budget.

“In tackling the CPS budget deficit, we will begin by cutting bureaucracy so that we can focus our resources on supporting students and teachers,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This plan will reduce the Central Office budget and scale back on planned spending, keeping cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.”

“We will continually search for efficiencies that let us put more resources toward the education of our children,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “I am determined to route every dollar I can to classrooms. We are starting that process today by having the Central Office do its part.”

The plan will achieve $75 million in savings in the following ways:

-- Implement reductions to Central Office departments: $16 million

-- Close vacant Central Office positions and those that will become vacant due to retirements and resignations; limited layoffs. -- Reduce Central Office contractual services and delay office equipment upgrades.

While the Chicago Tribune has published hundreds of phony news stories since its reporters declared Chicago's public schools "America's Worst" as part of setting the bankers' agenda for corporate school reform nearly 30 years ago, the latest, on June 3, 2011, achieved a kind of dubious distinction. From the headline misrepresenting what the mayor was really proposing (less than $20 million of the supposed $75 million "cuts" were coming from the central office budget, and nothing from current administrators, since all the "cuts" are supposed to come from not filling vacant positions) to simply repeating the silly and crude Wall Street metaphor ("skin in the game...") that Chicago's new mayor is famous for, the article is simply a recycling of City Hall propaganda. Worth the look as a historical artifact — and a harbinger of propaganda to come.-- Minimize debt servicing costs: $44 million. Scale back planned FY 2012 bond issuances for capital projects, lowering debt servicing costs.

-- Decrease reliance on privatized custodial services: $7.3 million

-- Reduce unutilized space in under-enrolled schools to decrease need for private custodial services.

-- Increase efficiency of utilities, waste management, and cleaning staff: $1.1 million

-- Partner with ComEd to turn off all non-emergency lights during certain summer periods when school is not in session. -- Re-bid waste management contract. Cut overtime hours of Central Office cleaning staff.

-- Reduce size of vehicle fleet: $5 million

-- Downsize and increase efficiency of school bus fleet while serving same number of students.

-- Reduce equipment budget for non-teaching staff: $1.2 million

-- Refrain from upgrading computers and software used by Central Office support staff. -- Close apprentice engineer program for non-CPS students: $520,000

-- Cease funding a 12-person engineering apprenticeship program for high school graduates.

-- Shrink roving custodial crew: $200,000

-- Reduce size of supplementary custodial staff used to augment school custodial staff.


Emanuel’s $75 million in cuts mean longer bus rides, dirtier schools

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter Jun 2, 2011 3:19PM

Chicago Public Schools students will have longer bus rides and schools that are half-empty will be dirtier — thanks to $75 million in “non-classroom” cuts ordered Thursday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked schools team.

With a $720 million deficit — and $77 million more in new budget cuts authorized by the Illinois General Assembly — the latest round of bureaucratic belt-tightening merely keeps the system “running in place,” as chief operating officer Tim Cawley put it.

But the cuts send a powerful message to two important players: the state, which owes CPS $300 million, and a Chicago Teachers Union that will be asked to make concessions to help eliminate the shortfall.

“Your hand is strengthened … by telling the state, ‘We are making the tough decisions and the smart decisions.’ When we go in and advocate, ‘We need you to pay your bills,’ they don’t just think it’s going into some big black hole in the bureaucracy,” the mayor said during a news conference at South Loop Elementary, 1212 S. Plymouth Court.

As for the teachers union, Emanuel said, “We inherited at the city a $600 million [operating] deficit. We’re gonna fix it. The schools? $720 [million]. ... We’ve got to make the tough calls, but everybody will have some skin in the game.”

Asked if she was prepared to put some “skin in the game,” CTU President Karen Lewis said, “I don’t even know what that means. To me, it’s rhetoric.”

Lewis later released a statement noting that the $75 million in cuts merely returns CPS to the “status quo” after the $77 million in state budget cuts. The fact that so much money could be cut from administration and bureaucracy “underscores the need for more transparency” in school spending, she said.

“The citizens of Chicago need to see every line of school spending — how much is spent, on what, and to whom. Then we can have a frank priority-setting session that addresses research-based education policy,” Lewis said.

Last month, in his first full day in office, Emanuel honored a campaign promise by ordering $75 million in cuts to former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s final city budget.

Now, newly-appointed Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has matched his boss with school cuts that, he insists, will not impact the classroom, but will be felt by students who ride buses and those who attend half-empty schools.

“Just by lengthening some of the routes a little bit, we can save $5 million,” Cawley said of the bussing cuts. The rides would be five to 10 minutes longer, officials said.

“If some students have to ride a little bit longer on the bus, we’ll do it that way,’’ Cawley said. “I’m hoping that’s not the case. … I’m actually pretty confident we’re going to be able save that $5 million through negotiating better contracts with our bus operators.”

The $7.5 million in savings from custodial services will come primarily by cleaning only the utilized portion of half-empty schools. Another $200,000 will come from shrinking a custodial crew that supplements school cleaners.

“We have … whole floors that don’t have any children in them. We are paying outside custodians to clean those floors, clean those classrooms as if there are children in them every day. … We’re not gonna do that anymore,” Cawley said.

The biggest savings — $44 million — will come from shrinking bond issues for capital projects that will now be delayed.

Another $17.2 million in cuts will hit the central office, a target of virtually every school administration.

This round includes: 20 layoffs; elimination of 40 open or soon-to-be-vacant positions; cuts in contractual services; and delays in the purchase of office equipment and computer and software upgrades.

“My commitment is to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible,” Brizard said.

Emanuel added, “By cutting the bureaucracy first and preserving resources for the classroom, it makes a statement as powerful as the money about where you set the priorities. Every decision we’re gonna make is how to preserve the classroom for the children so they can learn.”


June 3, 2011 at 7:16 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Cutting the bureaucracy first

George's article on the history of "cutting the bureaucracy first" is completely correct. In fact I would suggest his argument could in fact be proven mathematically just using CPS budgets from the last 10 years.

If you start with a base budget for the Central bureaucracy and keep cutting it by the numbers put out in CPS press releases you will come up with a current bureaucracy that is almost non-existant. So the truth is the day after the budget is approved by the CPS Board positions and spending for what is called the bureaucracy starts yet again.

There is a reason for this, and that reason is urban school districts the size of Chicago's require a bureaucracy in order to enforce social control over education. If CPS loses control a critical function of education in our city and nation breaks down. That function is not only to teach children how to read, write, and execute equations, but to re-create the existing social order. Every school system does this, whether it is in France or China.

The charter school model creates multiple small bureaucracies and bureaucracies in the private sector like the Gates Foundation, or Broad that control charters through grants. The so called war on educational bureaucracy is an illusion.

Rod Estvan

June 3, 2011 at 8:14 AM

By: Bob Busch

Memorial Day and Gangs at North Ave. Beach

Cooler by the Lake

I was always under the impression that the sole purpose of a bureaucracy was to maintain itself. The educational bureaucracy in Chicago has been superb at reproduction. Far from enforcing any social order other than anarchy, this mindless faceless band of cowards are turning the schools, and city into a cesspool of violence by their criminal inaction in the face of modern technology.

If you believe the City Bureaucrats North Ave Beach was closed because of the heat on Memorial day. Those who have seen the effects of texting on gang warfare up close know what actually happened. These modern and violent tactics have been perfected by a hundred attacks in the hallways of our schools. The Bureaucrats response to these attacks on social order has been to lie to the public, punish the accuser, then do nothing hoping it will all go away. Perhaps in China and France things are different but in Chicago our bureaucrats do not help the situation.

June 3, 2011 at 12:34 PM

By: john kugler

Premeditated Criminal Negligence

Anytime a child gets hurt in a school, there should be a criminal investigation and charges against the principal and district. Put some of these bureaucrats in prison and we will see a fast change in how policy is implemented and carried out.

June 4, 2011 at 7:10 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Nature and function of bureaucracy

In relation to Bob's comment and the existing bureaucracy creating disorder not social order. One of George's favorite TV series ever I think was the Wire. It does a good job showing how having what appears to be urban corruption and violence is almost designed from the top.

Isn't it better to have urban children killing each other rather than dragging Chicago's wealthy from their cars and shooting them? Social order maybe is a relative concept depending on where one sits in the social structure.

Rod Estvan

June 4, 2011 at 11:42 AM

By: George N Schmidt

'Terror Town,' North Ave Beach, Chicago corruption, and The Wire

I very much try to do my reporting and other work and not jump in here, but Rod's mention of The Wire, against the background of what Bob reported in these comments on North Ave beach last weekend, needs to be shared in this perspective. Corruption in Chicago is so great and goes so high that we can't even compare what Chicago has generated to The Wire, because the differences are of orders of magnitude (and now, with Rahm, Magnitar, but that's a different take on the same continuum)...

Four years ago, I worked the 21st Ward during the aldermanic election and runoff. Two of the assistants to the precinct captain in the precincts I watched were Gangster Disciples, fully decked out in their colors. Every hour or so, I was asked (middle aged white guy with cell phone; might have once been a cop) by the ladies in the polling place to go outside and shoo the GDs from the doorstep. That scene is replicated dozens if not hundreds of times in Chicago every election day. What the thugs would do is block the entrance to the polling place until the precinct captain, who was stationed across the street, gave a signal that the potential voters were OK with him. If there was no signal, the voter was forced to squeeze inside past two very large and nasty looking doorkeepers.

I was the only white person around there all day by the way. It was a "black on black" thing.

I got these guys pissed off because towards the middle of the day, I would go outside and announce "The Larry Hoover fan club has to leave..." Disrespect and all that. I may even have thrown down the "pitchfork," because they were, indeed, getting me angry.

The next day I was driving to Detroit, and my passenger side front tire went out a little way up into Michigan. It was the old linoleum knife on the inside tire wall trick. Michigan minutemen were good and timely, and the tire shop in the nearest town was a union shop (I was wearing a union jacket) so the damages and time lost were not too great. When they showed me where the tire had "failed" (along the cut inside where you can't see until it's too late) I recognized the trick from years ago. But that's another story for another time.

At Bowen High School before Paul Vallas fired me I was "gang security coordinator," and later under Deborah Lynch I was the same for the CTU. Lots of experience with those people (and folks).

But here is the current events update. Not just what was going down at North Avenue Beach last Monday. Later in the week.

When I was out at Bowen, we knew that "Terror Town BPSN" were special in the world of Jeff Fort's followers and kin. That was in the 1990s, when a couple of the princes of the Stones lost their lives in the family business. (If memory serves me, and it's a long time ago, one was Prince Angel, but he could have been the one who survived). All were all up there in Terror Town. One of my former students who didn't live to be 18 (Stephen Wilborn) was a Stone who coordinated the corner at "South Cs" for the organization.

And now we're in 2011...

And those same coordinates and maps are still the power grid for "The Wire" Chicago style.

But the joke is on all of us.

I was the one who was fired from my teaching job, after the heresy of pointing to the incredible stupidity of the CASE tests. The drug dealers inside several of the schools I knew about (staff; "parents") are either still in business or recently retired at a pension much higher than the one I'm collecting.

Rahm had better get to know this part of reality fast, or if he already knows, then we'll be having the same conversation another 15 or 20 years from now. It may not be a thug scrimmage on North Ave Beach or a headline grabbing bust in "Terror Town", but the outlines will be no different because, as The Wire noted, this kind of corruption goes all the way to the "top." And has for a long long time.

June 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

By: Bob

Down the road

Whale Shit

That’s where I sat as a librarian at a south side general high school.

So my perspective was from the bottom up. Mr. Estivan is such a super writer

That I could not hope to match him. But I think that I might know a little more about the workings of

Cps on the local level, If I could only write half as good as he does I would be happy.

That said I was just trying to point out that nothing happens in a vacuum and as

Teachers we have had to put up with such violence lately that most people would not believe it

and when we try to report it most bureaucrats find it easier to ignore us and go on their merry

way .Somebody better start to deal with this anti-social behavior or the city might wind –up

in total paralysis.

June 4, 2011 at 5:23 PM

By: Kathy Jacobs

Get 'skinned in the (fixed) game', Rahm tells teachers

Rahm Emanuel stated in the Chicago Tribune on April 15, "I want to have a discussion about what that 1 1/2 (hours) is going to be used for." I have a suggestion. How about if he teaches Chicago students about contract law with an emphasis on breach of contract? He also said in the Sun-Times on June 4, when referring to the CTU, that “everybody will have some skin in the game.” I think that was supposed to read that the teachers will get skinned in the game. Cutting vacant positions, which shouldn’t have been listed in the deficit in the first place, doesn’t count as CPS serving up an amuse-bouche. In his inaugural address he said he wants “reformed tenure to help us keep good teachers and pay them better.” Only at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party does that translate into “Let’s not honor the agreed-upon 4% raise for next year.”

June 4, 2011 at 6:01 PM

By: John Kugler

Parasitic Growth

Youth Violence is class warfare except that the targets of the violence have been directed at each other rather than the individuals and corporations that are profiteering from chaos by creating a lumpin class. The more violence there is, the more the poor and working class will be exploited by the ruling class with fear tactics, prisons, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a host of other hate fueled character traits.


parasitic growth

Judging a country’s economic performance with reference to aggregates like Gross Domestic Product can be misleading, Melman observed, particularly when those quantitative measures conceal or obscure qualitative problems.[7] Measurements of “economic growth” are meaningless if they do not differentiate between what he called productive growth and parasitic growth. Productive growth improves people’s standard of living and/or contributes to future production, while parasitic growth merely depletes manpower and existing stocks of goods without accomplishing either of these ends.[8] In Melman’s view, productive growth involves both the production of consumer goods as well as the production of capital goods that increase the economy’s capacity to produce consumer goods in the future. Both are aimed at satisfying human needs.

Beyond a certain limit, military spending constitutes the classic example of what Melman considered parasitic growth. (p. 4)

[7]Murray N. Rothbard made a similar point when suggested that GNP be replaced by Private Product Remaining, which excludes government expenditures altogether and measures only the size of the private economy. Murray N. Rothbard, America’s Great Depression, 4th ed. New York: Richardson & Snyder, 1983, 296-97.

[8]Melman, Our Depleted Society, 5.



Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007. Print.

Woods, Jr., Thomas E. "The Neglected Costs of the Warfare State: An Austrian Tribute to Seymour Melman." Ludwig Von Mises Institute: Working Papers, 2006.

Von, Mises L. Planned Chaos. Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y: Foundation for Economic Education, 1947. Print.

June 7, 2011 at 4:08 PM

By: Anthony Johnson

Cutting losses in the interim

I believe the time has come for CTU to forge some type of "deal" with CPS that will bring teachers who were "honorably terminated" last summer back into the classroom, or at least closer than they were before. I applaud the exceptional battle that Karen Lewis and CTU has waged in fighting for the rights of its member under challenging circumstances.

However,I have watched in horror as excellent, decent human beings have lost their homes, burn through savings and retirement accounts just to keep their heads above water,and live day-to-day. I understand why the Union is fighting and I agree that the cause is worth fighting for, but you have members suffering through slow,painful, financial "deaths".

An entire school year has passed with no income, and, perhaps just as important, without teaching and helping students in Chicago. We can certainly argue that CPS has wasted millions of dollars in various different ways;you'll get no argument from me. You have membership that has been sitting patiently,watching the actions of CPS and CTU, inside and outside of court, hoping for the day that they can return to their classrooms. I abhor the idea of making deals with the "devil", but it's time.It's now time for CTU to make that happen.Help your brothers and sisters in solidarity RIGHT NOW.

June 8, 2011 at 1:24 AM

By: John Kugler

Rahm => lying piece of s--t

when will this dangerous ass get it through his thick skull that lying and media spin will not stop criminal activity of youth that have been trained not to respect authority and have seen their communities destroyed for profit by corrupt politicians.

Emanuel praises police response to mob attacks(tribune scum fascists)

10:05 p.m. CDT, June 7, 2011,0,7487156.story

One hour later there is an attack( i bet that the tribune put out the spin story to counter the on the ground facts of continued mob attacks)

New mob attack in downtown area?

11:55 p.m. CDT, June 7, 2011,0,3724492.story?track=rss

June 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Masterful Journalist George Schmidt

I can hardly keep up in reading what George manages to do in writing. This article and its art and metaphor was special as an expose of what's going on in the city and the duplicity and cupidity of our greedy, vicious, and lying "misleaders" of education.

June 15, 2011 at 6:51 PM

By: Bob Busch

the 4%

The banana room.

It was located under four shops at the old Simeon.A vast cavernous space Filled with disconnected meat freezers, which were served by meat hooks on a Sort of overhead track system .Trucks would send entire slabs of meat from the truck Downstairs into the banana room. It was so filthy and scary nobody ever went down there except to make love and sneak a smoke. Used rubbers and cigarette butts sat on the floor for years .Oh, the Shops stored paint, fenders, car hoods and some materials down there. One fine day warning stickers were posted on all the outside doors concerning Asbestos contamination, that actually got people so riled up an explanation was forthcoming. A man from the asbestos company explained that the banana room was going to be decontaminated and the signs were just a precaution. What he failed to mention was the Huge air compressor in the banana room provided air pressure to the shops up above. The compressor got this air from the contaminated room. Every time something was painted in OB’s shop, or anybody filled a tire the air came from the contaminated banana room.I only point this out because I am so angry today a trip down memory lane will help me get over The Boards concern for “ The Children

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

1 + 3 =